Ants work in a daily rat race receive promotions
There are two tidbits about ants that are common knowledge. First, ants can lift an enormous amount of weight proportional to their own body weight. Second, ants live and work in colonies, forming mesmerizing worker paths, almost as if they’re following some kind of sophisticated real-time strategy game’s pathing model. A new study has found that when ants are traveling along those worker paths, they’re actually partaking in something of a rat race, working hard toward a job promotion — which they eventually receive.Biologists at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland tagged every worker ant in a colony, as they are difficult to tell apart, and thus difficult to track. Thanks to the tags, the ants were tracked with a computer, and the team of biologists found that the workers performed three types of jobs. One is taking care of the young and the colony’s queen (essentially nurses), another is cleaning up the colony, and the final one is searching for food. What’s unique about the different jobs is that the ants seem to get promoted from one task to another as they get older. Essentially, they put in work, then get promoted.The team studied six groups of carpenter ants that contained around 100 individuals each, and tagged them with a piece of paper containing something similar to a QR code. The ants were watched over by a computer, which ended up recording over 9.4 million interactions between the workers alone. The age-to-job-experience ratio isn’t exactly similar to that found in humans. Nurses are the youngest, foragers are the oldest, and cleaners are in the middle. Normally, out of a deliveryman, janitor, and nurse — though they all provide an important function — the nurse would require the most experience, yet in the ant colony, nurses have had the least amount of time to prepare for their job. However, just like human careers, the team of biologists did find exceptions to the average.As to why the ants change jobs as they get older, there’s no clear reason as of yet. Studying the gathered data in the hopes of finding out will be the University of Lausanne team’s next priority.